22 February 2006

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Business Today

‘Our future is in ICT’ - Austin Gatt

“It’s the time for this country to truly benefit from the fruits of all the work we have done, as of this year, Malta will be recognized even more than it has so far as the locus of innovation for the region.” – Austin Gatt
“We want local enterprise to believe in the potential of our future in ICT because 2006 will be a very exciting year for them and Malta’s international partners.” Minister for Investment, Industry and IT, Austin Gatt said this when he was addressing the IBM Malta Technical Symposium.
Minister Austin Gatt said that while their presence in Malta happens when the country is going to face an interesting time, IBM came in Malta because “you have recognised Malta as partner in your efforts to develop your products and services in our region.”
He said that over the past six years, the country has worked to build in Malta the foundations of a regional ICT centre of excellence. Minister Gatt said that six years ago “we spelled out our ambition to make Malta an ICT Centre of Regional Excellence.
“We have spent the last six years building the building blocks and the foundations for the ICT edifice we will be unveiling this year.” He added that during the last six years, Malta has earned a reputation as a reliable and credible partner of the world industry leaders. The country has also established our local ICT industry as a sustainable supplier of innovative and original products to the regional market.
Minister Austin Gatt said that “now it’s the time for this country to truly benefit from the fruits of all the work we have done, as of this year, Malta will be recognized even more than it has so far as the locus of innovation for the region.”
Minister Gatt said that the Government has pumped a stream of educational channels that has produced the necessary critical mass of competence that we need in the three sectors of IT namely hardware, software and services. “Our targets are relatively large firms that prefer to outsource their software needs to a European country with a multi-lingual workforce and a Western business attitude, where the quality of life resembles that from where the outsourcing work is originating.” The Minister for IT said that the government recognises that our resources must be ready to take up these opportunities. Our main focus is on the availability of ICT skills. “Following the setting up of the various academies at the University and the vocational college, the government is now stepping up its efforts by partnering with the private ICT training providers in the myPotential programme which I will be launching this week”, continued Gatt. He said that the myPotential programme will target students, the unemployed, people in employment that want to further their studies in ICT and companies that want to provide ICT training to their employees.
It is the government’s aim to enable those with limited income (mainly full-time students and the unemployed) to follow vendor-specific certifications at a fraction of the commercial cost. The cost incurred by the students and the unemployed will be recouped by the same through a tax credit system. The difference between success and failure will be narrow but what will make the difference is ensuring a genuine international dimension to the new culture we promote.
Minister Gatt expressed his belief that the insularity of the country remains evident in the culture and attitude of local enterprises including, the ICT sector. Similar to all other sectors, local enterprises lack the ‘clustering’ attitude that allow them to partner and tap larger markets. The clustering of the ICT companies operating in Malta (local and foreign-owned) will strengthen the presence of the ICT industry in Malta, particularly the contribution of the sector to the GDP.
To overcome this barrier, Malta will be using a new venture capital fund which will be launched in the near future. Minister Austin Gatt said that to this one has to add myPotential initiative, to be launched shortly, and the vertical strategic alliances with the major ICT companies that provide internationally recognised ICT certifications.
The Minister for IT also said that the government wants to ensure the availability of the right ICT infrastructure and the availability of various fiscal incentives to increase the size of e-business solutions and further investment in ICT R&D.

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